Social Media for Tourism Businesses- Ignore at your Peril

Newspapers, televisions, websites. At one time, all these means of communication were new and untested. People said they wouldn’t last, or they were a waste of time. Then they quickly became the preferred method of reaching out to new and existing customers and the advertising world changed. That is what is currently happening with Social media- sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Foursquare. Have you ignored them up until now or are you embracing them in your marketing strategies for 2010?

Many tourism  business owners say the same thing- I have no time. I am so busy running my business that I don’t have time to waste online looking at what everyone else is writing on their Facebook page, or tweeting about. However, that is where many of your customers are spending their time. Over 400 million people have a Facebook page and 50% of them check it at least once a day. Here are some other interesting facts about Facebook users:

  •  The 35-54 year old demographic is growing fastest, with a 276.4% growth rate in 2009
  •  The 55+ demo is not far behind with a 194.3% growth rate
  •  The 25-34 year population on Facebook is doubling every 6 months
  •  There are more females (55.7%) than males (42.2%) on Facebook
  • The largest demographic concentration remains the college crowd of 18-24 year olds (40.8%) which is down from (53.8%) six months ago.

Twitter is a fast growing application as well. People write short (140 characters or less) sentences, or share links to online information. The perception is that people just write silly things like “I am drinking coffee and reading the paper”. True, some people do, but I suggest getting an account and ‘follow’ people in the tourism industry such as  @usatourismboard, @travelmediaguru , @nytimestravel , @sallykberry (that’s me!)  and tourism businesses at your destination. You can establish yourself as an expert in your business sector, and have a new way to reach out to customers. Research has shown the websites that have links to Facebook and Twitter accounts are seen as more professional and reliable businesses.

These social media accounts are free and there are many organizations that are currently offering social media courses to help you get started. Set yourself the goal of becoming familiar with these applications before the end of the year and you will be giving your business a competitive advantage.

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2 thoughts on “Social Media for Tourism Businesses- Ignore at your Peril

  1. It’s true, finding the time to go to Twitter or Facebook once a day is difficult for those who have small businesses. I’m usually on line first thing in the morning. Between 5:30 and 7:00 AM. Then, it’s off doing the plethora of things involved in runnng a B&B. Innkeeping is done by a one man/women band, the innkeeper. Basically we do it all. Besides, I don’t care that someone is eating their sandwich at a particular moment or texting while driving. Give me some REAL info I can use. Like a good recipe or how to make my own “green” cleaning product with vinegar and baking soda. Sometimes though, people need to just disconnect from the Internet and the world.

    • Hi Pat and Belinda-
      I agree with you that it can be a challenge being a small business and managing a social media strategy along with cooking, cleaning, taking bookings, etc. But I think you hit the nail on the head- which type of social media works for you and brings you more business and provides answers to your questions. If Facebook is the best way to connect with your customers, then don’t waste time tweeting. It’s important to have an understanding of all the social media out there, but just use what works for you. My other suggestion would be to create a weekly goal for yourself- like posting photos to Facebook once a week, and asking guests to ‘like’ you when they get home so they can keep connected. Maybe post a recipe or a note from a customer once a month. I think if you set a measurable goal for your efforts, you will be more likely to keep at it.
      Thanks for your comment!

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